Bald and golden eagles in the winter, migrating songbirds in spring and fall, and residents like white-throated swifts and canyon wrens are just some of the more than 190 bird species you'll encounter at El Malpais National Monument.

Great birdwatching sites include the various stops along Hwy 117 down the east side of the monument, particularly the Las Ventanas and Narrows Picnic Areas, and the El Calderon trailhead on Hwy 53 south of Grants. These sites provide a variety of habitat - sandstone cliffs, shortgrass prairies, and rugged volcanic landscapes to the east, and pine forests to the west.

Raptor Monitoring
A volunteer scans the North Pasture area for birds.

NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Raptor and Bird Monitoring

To keep up on what is flying around throughout El Malpais, Natural Resources personnel do weekly raptor and bird monitoring. Monitoring efforts take place on both the east and northwestern sides of the monument. You can check on sightings by logging into the National Aububon Society's eBird website. Click on explore data/bar charts/New Mexico/Counties in New Mexico/Cibola County. If you are interested in helping with the bird monitoring contact the Natural Resources Office at (505) 286-4641.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

NPS photo Dale Dombrowski


From the prairie environment in North Pasture to the Ponderosa pine forests near El Calderon, El Malpais offers a tremendously diverse environment for raptors. It is not uncommon to see many different raptors including bald and golden eagles, red tailed hawks, prairie falcons, American kestrels and many more.

Greater Roadrunner

Photo Dale Dombrowski

Greater Roadrunner

The Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is a large ground dwelling bird with a brown, white and buff body and a shaggy, crested head. Roadrunners are members of the cuckoo family and can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour when running. Many people believe the roadrunner is flightless, but this is a myth. Roadrunners eat scorpions, snakes, spiders and a number of other small animals. Roadrunners are fast enough to catch rattlesnakes and may even team up with one another to subdue large snakes. They have expanded their range in the U.S. and can be found from Louisiana to California. The roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico.

Last updated: September 20, 2016

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1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants, NM 87020


(505) 876-2783

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